The holiday season is filled with friends, family, gift giving and good cheer. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when identity theft spikes. If you’re not careful, your personal and financial information could be stolen in an instant. Here are several ways to protect your identity during, and after, the holidays.
While the convenience of public Wi-Fi hotspots can’t be beat, their security is less than desirable. Criminals favor public Wi-Fi networks since they are heavily used and lack advanced security encryption. When on the go, avoid using them to shop; it’s safer to wait until you get home. Be sure to take notice of whether or not you are on a secure website; only make purchases on sites that begin with HTTPS. These websites use a feature called secure socket layer” (SSL), which encrypts the information being sent so that only the intended recipient can see it.
More and more Canadians use smartphones for their banking and buying transactions. As a result, smartphones are just as valuable as wallets filled with credit cards and cash. The first line of defense for protecting your smartphone is to use a screen lock ; it makes it harder for a thief to access your data if your phone is stolen. And just like your desktop computer or laptop, make sure it has security software installed. If you are using your phone for purchases, be sure to only use apps provided by your financial institution to make mobile payments. And finally, as an added precaution, don’t carry your phone in your back pocket where it can easily be pick-pocketed.
You’ll probably want to keep receipts in case a gift needs to be returned, but when it’s time to dispose of them, make sure they’re properly shredded. The same goes for bank statements and credit card bills; rather than tossing them in a recycling bin or trash can, destroy them. Consider using a residential shredding service for a quick, convenient and secure way to destroy your receipts and financial information.
Phishing scams trick people into handing over their personal information by convincing them to click on seemingly legitimate, but actually fake, web links and email attachments. It’s easy to become a victim, especially during the holidays when your email is inundated with retail offers. Beware of unexpected emails and never click on a link from a company you don’t recognize or haven’t already done business with. If you are unsure whether or not an email is legitimate, visit the vendor’s website and check before opening.
Many people who fall victim to identity theft don’t discover it until weeks or even months later. During the holiday season, be extra vigilant about monitoring your credit. If you suspect fraudulent activity with any of your accounts, get a copy of your credit report and check it out right away.
You’ll enjoy your holidays a lot more if your identity and financial information is secure. Use these identity theft protection tips to ensure you enjoy them to the fullest!
Shred Guard provides NAID AAA Certified shredding and destruction services for businesses throughout Atlantic Canada. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.